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Monday, July 21, 2008

It’s the Economy, Stupid

posted by on July 21 at 17:03 PM

From The New York Times:

After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for awhile.

When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”


The Joint Economic Committee study cites the growing statistical evidence that women are leaving the work force “on par with men,” and the potentially disastrous consequences for families.

“Women bring home about one-third of family income,” said Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York and vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. “And only those families with a working wife have seen real improvement in their living standards.”

The proportion of women holding jobs in their prime working years, 25 to 54, peaked at 74.9 percent in early 2000 as the technology investment bubble was about to burst. Eight years later, in June, it was 72.7 percent, a seemingly small decline, but those 2.2 percentage points erase more than 12 years of gains for women. Four million more in their prime years would be employed today if the old pattern had prevailed through the expansion now ending.

The pattern is roughly similar among the well-educated and the less educated, among the married and never married, among mothers with teenage children and those with children under 6, and among white women and black.

The women, in sum, are for the first time withdrawing from work with the same uniformity as men in their prime working years. Ninety-six percent of the men held jobs in 1953, their peak year. That is down to 86.4 percent today. But while men are rarely thought of as dropping out to run the household, that is often the assumption when women pull out.

“A woman gets laid off and she stays home for six months with her kids,” Ms. Boushey said. “She doesn’t admit that she is staying home because she could not get another acceptable job.”

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Q: Why was the chicken fired from The Stranger?

A: To get to the other Seattle alternative weekly!

Posted by Snark of the Covenant | July 21, 2008 6:23 PM

Wow, it's almost as if the consequences of the increasing stratification of the economy cut across the traditional boundary lines of identity politics and affect everybody, giving common political cause to members of the struggling middle class and working poor from every possible background. And yet all my middle-class liberal college-educated friends assure me that the only meaningful way to address oppression is to identify oneself with one particular historically-downtrodden demographic slice and endlessly struggle to prevent society at large from engaging in insensitive behavior towards that slice. Should I struggle for economic justice for everybody or continue to confine my efforts to the fight for more sensitive treatment for people who look, act and/or think like me? What a conundrum.

Posted by flamingbanjo | July 21, 2008 6:29 PM

Yes, but these are obviously middle class women who are married or partnered. They have the choice to stay home. If I don't go to kids and I are on the streets. I work because I have to and my income makes up 100 percent of my family's income, not 1/3. I guess I should feel bad for them as a whole, but I don't. At all.

Posted by smp | July 21, 2008 7:56 PM


While the women in question married/partnered and able to stay home without risking poverty, if you read the last two paragraphs, it says that the problem is that women were staying home not out of choice, but because jobs were unavailable. They were just counting the women as having stayed home to raise kids/run the house.

Posted by MK | July 21, 2008 9:01 PM

Flamingbanjo, the two aren't mutually exclusive. It's just that plenty of do-good libs are well off and really don't give a fig about class. Those unions took things too far, don't you know.

Corn pone opinions, as usual.

Posted by CP | July 21, 2008 9:59 PM

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